Sudbury City Hall

Conflict of interest charges 'fabricated' says Sudbury councillor

Sudbury city councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann, who has been accused by a local business owner of conflict of interest in her vote to place a $100 million arena on the Kingsway, is demanding an apology from her accuser.

Landry-Altmann was director of motorsports association three months before controversial vote

Ward 12 Greater Sudbury city councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)
Greater Sudbury city councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann is being accused of a conflict of interest in the decison to build the new arena on the Kingsway. She speaking out about the charges. This is a prepared statement she read at city council. 4:34

Sudbury city councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann, who has been accused by a local business owner of conflict of interest in her vote to place a $100 million arena on the Kingsway, is demanding an apology from her accuser.

Last week, local businessman Andre Dumais filed papers in an Ontario Superior court, claiming Landry-Altmann was in violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act when she voted in favour of building a new city arena on the Kingsway.

Dumais claims that's because Landry-Altmann was a director on the board of the Sudbury District Motorsports Association.

That group had reached an agreement with developer Dario Zulich to build a car racing track as part of the entertainment district to be built around a new $100 million city-owned event centre.

The documents say that means Landry-Altmann had "direct or indirect pecuniary interest" in the location of the event centre and contravened the Municipal Act by casting a vote.

Reading from a prepared statement to her fellow councillors at Tuesday's city council meeting, Landry-Altmann said she cannot stand by while accusations fly.

"As a public official, I cannot stay silent when a complaint made against me is not true and may be used as a basis for discrediting a credible decision of municipal council," she said.

"We should not stay silent when a complaint is made against any of us that is fabricated and not supported by the facts."

Landry-Altmann says she resigned from SMDA three months before vote

Landry-Altmann was a director on the board of the Sudbury Motorsports Association until March, she said, three months before the vote.

In June, the SDMA said they had enlisted the help of True North Strong —  the group behind the proposed Kingsway location —  to develop a year-round, multi-purpose motorsport park.

"The SDMA association is a non-profit organization and operates as such," Landry-Altmann said. "There is no financial interest or gain possible for anyone involved as a volunteer with this motorsport association."

"Had Andre Dumais made a simple phone call to the association he would have gotten his facts straight."

At the contentious June vote to select the new location for a municipal arena, the motion to select downtown as the preferred site ended in a  6-6 stalemate, defeating the motion and then opening up the vote to select the Kingsway as the preferred location of the new arena.

The vote to build on the Kingsway passed. 10-2.

Motorsports park part of developer's vision

The Kingsway location was part of a package pitched by local developer Dario Zulich and his True North Strong group, who worked deals and brokered arrangements with businesses and city groups to locate on the same land.

In her statement, Landry-Altmann said the June 27 vote included two options.

"The first was selecting the downtown location," she said. "The second was selecting the Kingsway as the site for the future arena/event centre. It did not include a motorsport facility."

Landry-Altmann said in her statement she has not been involved with the motorsports organization since her resignation.

She also said she hasn't seen the papers that were served to court, and she's reserving comment until January 12, the date the case goes before a judge.

"I am insisting that Andre Dumais withdraw his court application and publicly apologize to me for wrongfully accusing me of conflict of interest," she said.

Andre Dumais, who stepped down from his role with the Chamber of Commerce, says the city 'dropped the ball' on its commitment to walkability when it chose the Kingsway as its preferred site for the construction of a new arena. (Casey Stranges CBC)

Accuser hoping council revisits landmark decision

Dumais, who recently quit the board of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce so he can lobby against the new arena being built on the Kingsway, says he is calling on the city to revisit the decision from June.

He says that wouldn't automatically happen if the court rules in his favour.

"In a case like this my understanding is that a decision is not necessarily voided. Past decisions aren't influenced by any final decision by a judge. However, from what I've been told... typically those decisions are revisited," Dumais told CBC News.

If found in conflict of interest, Landry-Altmann could be forced to step down as councillor, and barred from holding municipal office for seven years.

The City of Greater Sudbury said in a statement that "as the matter is before the court, we're not in a position to speak to legal matters."

The allegations will be heard in Sudbury court in January.